Folks, I’m a little worried about Westeros’s fisherman-cap-wearing creator, George R.R. Martin. Sure, he’s been very busy not finishing The Winds of Winter in recent years, serving as an executive producer for Syfy’s forthcoming Nightflyers series, trying to make a Wild Cards show happen, and now lending a hand in HBO’s quest to make some Game of Thrones spinoffs. But I think he’s on the verge of an existential crisis.
You see, he’s ostensibly involved in the production of the Thrones prequel series that’s set 10,000 years before the events of the original show. He even helped pen the pilot with Jane Goldman. Not much is known about the prequel—aside from early casting news of Naomi Watts and Josh Whitehouse—but we do know that it will coincide with events from the Long Night and the Age of Heroes, important moments in Westerosi history that gave birth to near-mythical figures and storied houses like the Lannisters. It all sounds great, and, if you follow George on Twitter, you’re probably already super stoked about this new show, which, according to George, is called The Long Night!
Casting is now underway for THE LONG NIGHT, the first of the GAME OF THRONES successor series to ordered to film. HBO has just announced the first cast member: NAOMI WATTS is coming on board as one of our stars. https://t.co/n0XkxsJG03 pic.twitter.com/uNF5mjPNte— George RR Martin (@GRRMspeaking) October 31, 2018
Here’s the thing, though: The show is definitely, 100 percent not called The Long Night. Don’t listen to George—and don’t listen to IMDb, either, which is not just referring to the prequel as The Long Night, but is also labeling it as a TV movie, which it isn’t. George very clearly wants the show to be named The Long Night, but it is resolutely not named that. No matter how much George tweets through it.
This all started when Variety first reported Naomi Watts’s casting and wrote “while there’s no official title as of yet, Martin has suggested The Long Night.” The implication there was quite heartbreaking: HBO was listening to George but, uh, only a little bit. Undeterred, George then wrote the above tweet, which only caused more sadness and prompted the question: Um, did anyone tell George that the show isn’t called The Long Night? At some point, Variety deleted the line in question from its report, tossing a dash of confusion into this soup of sadness. That brings us to Monday, when George took to his blog—the layout of which still resembles a Windows 95 screen—to clear the air, by which I mean he admitted defeat and also slightly whinged about said defeat.
“HBO has informed me that the Jane Goldman pilot is not (yet) titled THE LONG NIGHT,” he wrote. “That is certainly the title I prefer, but for the moment the pilot is still officially UNTITLED. So… mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. Elsewise, the pilot is coming along well, with casting falling into place.”
There’s so much sadness to unpack here. The fact that Martin added “yet” in parenthesis, hinting at his undying yet futile hope that the network is going to name the prequel what he’d like it to be named; the “that is certainly the title I prefer,” yet another reaffirmation of his desires, and a feeble attempt at strong-arming a handful of executives at HBO whom he apparently doesn’t have much leeway with; also, anytime someone says “mea culpa” once—let alone three times—two things can be reasonably inferred: one, that the person acknowledges they probably messed up, and two, that the person maintains that they’re still definitely not wrong. Call it the Phil Jackson principle.
It’s sad. Martin so clearly wants this show to be called The Long Night—and he wants people to know it. In fact, he’s talking about it a lot—too much, one could argue. We’re not far off from “Sir, this is an Arby’s” territory.
“It makes me very sad,” Binge Mode cohost Jason Concepcion told me through tear-stained Slacks. “George created a world which spans centuries of detailed fictional history. That creation became the most popular and culturally important television show of the era. And yet he now has so little juice that he’s been reduced to suggesting titles for the show via his blog. I am saddened by this.”
Hopefully Martin stops blogging about this, because it’s just really depressing, and the guy deserves much better than shame such as this. He’s literally the reason Thrones exists! There’s a simple solution here: HBO, just give Martin this title. Call the prequel The Long Night. It’s a solid name—it’s to the point, and it couldn’t be more relevant to the subject material. Also, Martin is actually good at naming things! He’s responsible for several cool-sounding events like the Battle of Blackwater and the Red Wedding, and two giant brothers nicknamed the Hound and the Mountain. The last time HBO tried to name something without him, it came up with the LOOT TRAIN ATTACK.
George, you have my support; I cannot wait to see Naomi Watts drink goblets of red wine in The Long Night. In return, all I ask is that you write at least one more Winds of Winter chapter this year, and see how you feel from there.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.